Saturday, February 1, 2014
Buried in the story about alleged cheating on monthly proficiency tests given to Air Force officers at ballistic missile sites is a reminder of the way electronic communications are changing investigations.
“The cheating came to light during an inquiry into illegal drug possession, when investigators discovered that test answers were being sent in text messages to the missile launch officers’ cellphones.”
It would be interesting to know the precise connection between the drug inquiry and discovery of the cheating scandal. Most likely, investigators seized a cell phone in the course of the drug investigation and stumbled across the text messages, although there are more traditional possibilities (e.g., a suspect in the drug investigation divulged the cheating in the hopes of obtaining leniency).
As a general matter, given the power of text messages and other electronic communications as evidence, the ability of investigators to get access to them is increasingly important and so stories like this always grab my interest.
The Supreme Court will finally weigh in on the issue of cell phone searches incident to arrest in two upcoming cases: United States v. Wurie and Riley v. California -- an issue that has long been in the crosshairs of my colleague: see, e.g. Adam Gershowitz, The iPhone Meets the Fourth Amendment, 56 UCLA L. Rev. 27 (2008)